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Research project to reveal how CSI and Line of Duty influence public’s policing perceptions

06 March 2019 @TeesUniNews

 

A Teesside University student has been given rare access to a police force’s forensic department as part of a brand-new initiative to find out how TV shows like CSI and Line of Duty influence people’s perceptions of the police.

Courtney Turner
Courtney Turner

Courtney Turner, who is in the second year of her BSc (Hons) Forensic Science, has undertaken a research placement with Northumbria Police. She will look into the extent TV dramas can alter the public’s perceptions about what forensic teams and officers can achieve, also known as the ‘CSI effect’.

The force is hoping the project will give them greater insight into what the public expects of them while also educating victims of crime about how their case will be handled and the work which will go into the investigation.

Former volunteer police cadet Courtney said: 'I am really enjoying my work with the force. It has been a massive learning curve for me to see everything I have been learning at university put into practice in the real world and how it differs from the expectations I have developed over the years.

'I have been shadowing Crime Scene Investigators (CSIs) and watching how they do their job – it has given me a real insight into the influence of TV when speaking with people at these crime scenes.'

Courtney is also asking the public for their views about CSI-style programmes.

She said: 'Some of the responses have shown me that there is a real variation in people's opinions. For example, some answers suggest unrealistic portrayal of forensics on TV is what shapes people’s opinion, while others say the existence of the CSI effect is ridiculous and gives TV too much credit. I’m not sure this comment highlights a variation in opinion – ‘unrealistic’ and ‘too much credit’ seems to suggest the same. Whatever your take is, I’m really interested in getting as many people’s responses as possible and seeing what the research suggests.'

Scientific Support Operations Manager, Kirsty Potter, from Northumbria Police’s Crime Department, said: 'We are hoping Courtney’s research will be a valuable tool for all of us across the force. Not only will it highlight the public’s perceptions of us and our work, but it will also give us a clearer idea of how to manage their expectations.

This is a great example of our partnership working and we are delighted that Courtney has been given this opportunity.

Melanie Brown

'We know TV shows like CSI and Law and Order are very dramatic and fast-paced and while life in the force can sometimes be like that, the time-frames and deadlines we work to are way longer with no instant results. Analysing prints, DNA swabs and testing can take days or weeks, not the minutes you see on TV.

'Our officers work hard every day to manage multiple caseloads and while we want victims of crime to know they are important to us and we will do everything we can to help them, we also want them to appreciate investigations can be highly complex and time consuming and do not want them to be disappointed when their cases is not solved within a matter of days.

'As a force we are committed to working with the public and will do everything we can to help.'

Melanie Brown, Course Leader for the BSc (Hons) Forensic Science at Teesside University, added: 'This is a fantastic experience for Courtney – having access to the day to day work of a forensic department, while at the same time conducting research which could have a real impact on how people view crime scene investigation.

'At Teesside University we are committed to providing our students with real life, practical experience to complement the work they undertake during their studies. This is a great example of our partnership working and we are delighted that Courtney has been given this opportunity.'


In the News

Research project to reveal how CSI Miami and Line of Duty influence public's policing perceptions
North East Chamber of Commerce, online, 7/3/2019
A Teesside University student has been given rare access to a police force's forensic department as part of a brand-new research project.